- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Opting to watch a movie instead of going for a hike in the heat may sound like an excuse, but with scorching temperatures across the U.S., it could be a matter of life or death.

Heat-related maladies and deaths are mounting around the country.

On Friday, Cody Flom, a 12-year-old from Arizona, died of heat exhaustion after going a hike. A 23-year-old landscaper in Missouri also died after trimming trees in triple-digit heat.

On July 19, an elderly woman in St. Louis became the second in her county to die of heat-related injuries. And at least 21 children have died because of being left in a hot car, said officials from AccuWeather.

Officials say heat-related deaths are preventable.

Children are some of the most vulnerable to heat stroke fatalities. The “Beat the Heat” public service announcement by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that it only takes 20 minutes for an 80-degree outside temperature to shoot to 109 degrees in a car, which could quickly become dangerous for children inside.

“Whether you’re a parent, caregiver or bystander of a child left in a car, it’s vitally important to understand children are more vulnerable to heat stroke than adults,” the National Traffic and Highway Administration reported. “Always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away.”

Keeping a stuffed animal in the front seat as a reminder of having a child in the back seat is also a good habit to get into, the NTHA said.

Outside workers, older adults, disabled people and males in general are also at higher risk, according to the CDC. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) encouraged employees whose jobs are outdoors to take extra measures to evade overheating.

“Steps to prevent heat illness include … drinking water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty, resting in the shade to cool down, and getting used to heat with an ‘easy does it’ approach on the first days of work during hot spells,” wrote Rhonda Burke, an OSHA public affairs specialist.

In light of the high temperatures across the nation, even President Obama advised all Americans to take a break from the sun last Wednesday.

“Stay safe as it heats up: Drink water, stay out of the sun, and check on your neighbors,” Mr. Obama tweeted just a few days before temperatures in Washington, D.C., rose to a record-breaking 100 degrees.

The National Weather Service also issued a public service announcement detailing the differences between heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion is less dangerous; excessive sweating and feeling faint are warning signs to get in the air conditioning and cool off. Muscle cramps, nausea and a throbbing headache could be signs of a heat stroke, in which calling 911 is the best course of action.

However, one of the biggest myths is that sweating indicates heat stroke isn’t happening, OSHA said.

“You can be sweating and still have heat stroke. A common symptom of heat stroke is mental changes, such as confusion or irritability,” Ms. Burke wrote.

The chances of being affected by the heat go up even more when there’s nowhere to stay in the shade.

“Remember that working in full sunlight, as the Missouri landscaper was doing, can increase heat index values by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. So that means if the temperature is 95 degrees, it will feel like 110 in direct sunlight,” Ms. Burke wrote.

The heat advisories issued Tuesday for much of the east coast are expected to persist until at least August, said Mike Smith, the senior vice president at AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions.

“It’s going to heat up more in the west, by that I mean from Colorado all the way to California. They are going to have extraordinarily hot weather. Temperatures in the east are going to ease a little bit, not a lot.”

The record-breaking temperatures seem to point to climate change. However, though it’s still sweltering in places like the District of Columbia, Mr. Smith said that global warming isn’t at fault.

“Most of the metrics actually show global temperatures cooling…I think global warming connections to every bit of weather is a futile request,” Mr. Smith said.

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